I have this weird, compulsive habit – everytime I approach Lulu, I check her tyres. I just give the front and rear wheel a light squeeze to ensure there is enough air in them. It happens anywhere – at the coffee shop, in passing as I’m doing the laundry in the garage, right before I take her out for a spin…anywhere, anytime.
I don’t know when it started, or why it even became such a disciplined habit, but I like to think it is because of this due diligence I rarely experience flats on a ride (the most recent experience where I had the misfortune of 3 in one morning is an edge case).
It got me thinking, however, about what else I do on the regular to ensure Lulu is in tip top condition between her bike shop services. I then decided to compile a list to share with you in case you find any of it useful. For example, I discovered the other day how to tune mechanical gears and am actually super excited to write about that later down the track (I don’t care what you say, mechanical is still a thing! Curse you electronic snobs)…
Check the actual tyres
I don’t just mean give them a squeeze. At least once a week, normally on a Friday before club crit the next day, I will go over the tyres to check out their wear and tear. I have a “dumb trainer” (god we’ve gone from smart phones to smart trainers, what is life?) and my rear tyre wears a lot faster than my front so I like to keep an eye on it to make sure there is still enough tread to keep me off the bitumen and the bike on it.
Wipe the frame down
Not a full on wash, but a quick wipe over of the frame not only keeps your noble steed looking sharp for that river loop but also will alert you to any wear and tear such as chips in the paint or cracks in the frame. I also take this time to cringe at the filth that has built itself up around the jockey wheels and cassette, and make a mental note to address that issue every other week (but literally at least once a fortnight give your beast a bath).
Wipe the chain and relube
Save the boiling of the chain for a later date and just give it a bit of a wipe with a cloth, and re apply your lube.
Don’t ever let your bike get to the point where you can hear the chain creaking as you pedal. You are a monster if you ever get to this point.
Check the brakes
Lulu has those god awful cantilever brakes so this may not apply to everyone, but I always make sure the brakes are in good working order and far enough away from the rim of the wheel that they will not rub. There is a reason the cantilever brakes were restricted to only a few models of the Envie and Propel…
WD-40 the “moving bits”
I tend to sweat a lot, especially on the trainer (doesn’t everybody) and this sweat tends to cover the bike and, in a recent experience actually rusted out my internal brake cables which led to a super sticky rear brake. So I now tend to WD-40 around the steerer tube, into the internal cable chamber and also my stem. Helps keep things nice and smooth. Keep in mind however to keep the WD-40 away from your brakes and your tyres…for obvious reasons (Tim did not just read over my shoulder and tell me to add it).
Your bicycle should be your pride and joy, if you want to believe that bloody n+1 mantra “the rules” will have you live by, and so on that note I also encourage you to do your own cleaning and not fob it off to someone else. I did this with my ponies when I was a kid and significantly regret it. By ensuring you maintain your own bike, it keeps you in tune with how well he/she is running and will alert you to anything that may be amiss and could save you an injury or expensive replacement later down the track.